Listening to the radio

“For God’s sake, Hal, jam the radio.”  (Bob Kaufmam, “Blues for Hal Waters,” The Ancient Rain: Poems 1956-1978,1950s)

“Yesterday I used a radio receiver for the first time. This was an agreeable way, I found, to be convinced that entertainment is available. You hear something that is far away, and the people producing these audible sounds are speaking, as it were, to everyone – in other words, they are completely ignorant as to the number and characteristics of their listeners.” (Robert Walser, “Radio,” 1924).

“One acoustic effect is rarely heard on North American radios: silence. Only occasionally, during broadcasts of theater or classical music, do quiet and silence achieve their full potentiality” (R. Murray Schafer, “The Electric Revolution,” The Tuning of the World, 1977)

“In spite of a little static, reception was well nigh perfect, sharp & sonorous, and I turned it up almost full strength, so that the room was drenched in sound.” (Charles Burchfield, journal entry on November 17, 1935)

“It would be of no use to listen to this kind of program in a dance hall or someone’s drawing room. It must be listened to not necessarily in a coalman’s hut, though that would be ideal, but in one’s own room, in the evening, when one is alone, at the time when it is one’s right and duty to instill in oneself calm and repose.” (Gaston Bachelard, “Reverie and Radio,” 1951)


“I heard it over the radio.”  (Ornette Coleman, 1960)

“It is, however, fair to expect the rehabilitation of hearing under the influence of broadcasting.” (Karel Teige, “Manifest Poetismu,” 1928)

“The main Radio station, that stronghold of steel, where clouds of wires cluster like strands of hair, will surely be protected by a sign with a skull and crossbones and the familiar word ‘Danger,’ since the least disruption of Radio operations would produce a mental blackout over the entire country, a temporary loss of consciousness.” (Velimir Khlebnikov, “The Radio of the Future,” 1921)


June 1924. Washington, D.C. “Radio nut — this set with everything necessary for receiving music and speech by radio has been put into a coconut shell. It was built by H. Zamora, a native of Manila, Philippine Islands.” Harris & Ewing Collection glass negative. Shorpy Historical Photos.


Anonymous, France, undated. Written of the back: “Mon frère-dans notre maison quand il n’y avait encore qu’un poste de TSF pour tout mobilier” (My brother in your house when where was only a TSF Radio for furniture)


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